Vanessa Bayer On Starring In "Trainwreck"
In the last few years, Vanessa Bayer has gone from the relative new kid on the "Saturday Night Live" block, peeking out from behind comedy giants like Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, and Andy Samberg, to one of the comedy show's senior members. She's created the fan-favorite character Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy and parlayed her Miley Cyrus impression into the popular teenybopper sketch "The Miley Cyrus Show." Now Bayer is ticking off another big-league box with a role in this year's buzziest summer comedy, "Trainwreck."
"This movie will ruin every other movie for me because it was so fun," Bayer said by phone. "There was just a lot of freedom to kind of try stuff out." In the Amy Schumer – written, Judd Apatow – directed film, Bayer plays Nikki, the best-friend-at-work sidekick to Schumer’s character (think Kathryn Hahn to Kate Hudson in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, except actually funny) who shares her philosophy on boys, drinking, and dating etiquette. “Why would he call? You guys just had sex,” Bayer says in the trailer about Schumer’s budding romance. "Hang up, he's obviously, like, sick or something."
On the subject of Trainwreck’s growing buzz, Bayer echoes Schumer's own comments that the film isn't about flipping gender roles.
"What I think people will really respond to is that it’s a woman's perspective that’s probably pretty common," Bayer said. "It’s just really honest." Ahead of the film's release, we spoke to Bayer about becoming friends with Schumer, meeting LeBron James, feeling scared of Tilda Swinton — and what "Trainwreck" is really about.
Did you know Amy Schumer prior to making" Trainwreck?"
No, the first time I had ever met Amy was at my audition. I read some lines with her and we improvised together and it was kind of an instant connection. Amy and I knew a lot of the same people in the comedy world, but we were in slightly different circles, so we just had never crossed paths before. It was crazy, but it was great that this movie brought us together. When I met her, it was, like, Where has she been all my life? We just were instant friends.
Did your dynamic with Bill Hader change from working with him on "SNL" to filming a movie?
It's so funny, at "SNL," Bill Hader always kind of treated me like his little sister and would kind of, like, lovingly bully me. So then to see him as this romantic lead was so strange. But also he’s so great in the movie. He’s this wonderful, charming romantic lead, but for me, I was, like, Ew, I feel like that’s my brother.
Did you guys get to improvise a lot?
We did. We really got to improvise quite a bit, and I think a lot of the improvised stuff got in there. Like the scene where Amy and I are on the couch, the one that’s in the trailer, where we’re talking about how Bill’s character called her, like, the day after they went out, we improvised a lot that day. We were breaking so much that, at one point, Judd did kind of get mad at us. Because we were ruining so many good takes, we’d do these really funny takes and we would just start laughing, and it was like, OK, we do have to get some footage that we can actually use in the movie.
Do you have any tactics to avoid breaking on "SNL"?
For me, a lot of the time to keep myself from laughing, I'll think about something really serious or something really sad, which can kind of take some of the fun out of the situation. I do think that the audience thinks it's funny when you break, but if you do it all the time, it loses something. I still haven’t broken on camera on "SNL." With "Trainwreck," because it wasn’t live and we could do more takes, I feel like we broke a lot.
While there are a lot of comedians in Trainwreck, the cast is pretty diverse. What was it like working with LeBron James and Tilda Swinton in the same film?
I don't really have any scenes with (LeBron), but I did stop by the last day of shooting and I got to meet him, and I’m from Cleveland, so that was very cool. LeBron is so funny in the movie and he’s such a good actor. Seeing these guys in the movie, it’s crazy just how good they are. And Tilda was so nice. I mean, I was intimidated. It was funny because, off camera, she’d be so sweet and nice and great, and then she was genuinely scary when we were shooting. Even when we were improvising stuff, it would be a little bit scary. She kind of beat up on me a little bit, but I’d take that from Tilda Swinton any day.
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